Trapattoni remains defiant despite World Cup hopes lying in tatters

The Italian insists his side can still qualify for Brazil 2014 despite last night's catastrophic defeat to Sweden as the curtain begins to fall on his reign in charge
As the dust settled on yet another hugely disappointing and underwhelming evening in Dublin 4, the mood was a sombre one as the players and management cut forlorn figures as they trudged onto the training pitch in Malahide for the morning-after recovery session.

It was almost like the players were mourning a death, the atmosphere not too dis-similiar to that of a wake as those involved in last night’s damaging defeat to Sweden, slowly plodded around the circumference of Gannon Park - trying to come to terms with the reality that the result brings.

Barring an unimaginable miracle in the last three games, and even then nine points might not be enough, Tuesday’s game in Vienna will surely be the last rites of Ireland’s World Cup campaign and indeed the end of Giovanni Trapattoni’s tenure.

While there’s life, there’s always hope and the Italian tactician was determined to hang onto every last bit of optimism as the post-mortem from Friday’s hugely disheartening game commenced.

“Obviously our position at this moment is difficult,” Trapattoni admitted.

“We have a very important game against Austria. We need to beat Austria. It’s not easy because Austria lost against Germany but until the table says were are completely out, we must believe we can do it.”

The evening had started so brightly for the hosts - the belief and optimism which the opening twenty minutes brought quickly receded into frustration and impatience with the stone-age tactics as the Scandanavians took control.

The Boys in Green got their just reward for a positive opening quarter as Robbie Keane fired home from close range but that was as good as it got, the majority of the 50,000 left deflated as they disappeared into the Autumnal evening, some even letting their feelings known at full-time.

However, the 74-year-old was quick to play down the boos which filtered from the stands on the final whistle.

“Our job until now has been very, very great. Obviously, supporters when they lose in Italy, here, in England, they boo. It's normal.”

Inevitably, the future of Trapattoni was high on the agenda as the wind and rain swept off the coast and battered the Gannon Park clubhouse, typifying the mood.

However, just as before, the veteran tactician was refusing to admit defeat and insisted his work is not yet done with a team he feels has been transformed under his stewardship.

"If I look at what we have done in these two years, sure. I think we have done until now, a very, very great job, a great job - not a good job, a great job,” he explained.

"We have changed many players in the squad and in the team and before the game, we were level in the table with a great team like Sweden.

"It's not my duty, it's the federation's, but I wish to remind you since we started this, we have changed 15 players and we have played like the great teams in Europe.

"But it's not my decision, it's up to the FAI [Football Association of Ireland]."

Trapattoni has admitted anything less than three points in Vienna will put an end to his hopes of leading the side to Brazil next summer, and asked in the wake of the Sweden defeat whether he still has the support of the players he said: "Ask them, ask them this."

While captain Robbie Keane, who scored his 60th international goal on Friday, provided an emphatic answer when the question of loyalty was put to him.

"As professionals, as far as we are concerned he is the manager and we are going to give him 100% backing.

"We have a game on Tuesday and if we don't get anything out of it, it's finito, it's as simple as that.

"If they can't get themselves up for these games knowing how important the game is, then there's a serious problem."

John O'Shea, asked about the Italian's future, said: "That's not up to me to decide. If we don't qualify, they are the things that will be asked. Let's wait and see."

Whatever happens, Trapattoni is adamant Ireland will emerge from qualifying in better shape than they began.

He said: "It was always a strong group with Germany, Sweden and also Austria. It was a tough group.

"We have many young players and I think they can improve their personality, their confidence and their trust. We must continue this.

"Also if we finish third in the table behind Germany and Sweden and better than Austria, that must increase our personality."

Jonathan Walters, Glenn Whelan and Simon Cox all picked up knocks and are doubts for the game in Vienna on Tuesday.

Nottingham Forest forward Cox has a dead leg, while Stoke pair Walters and Whelan finished the game complaining, respectively, of an ankle problem and a tight thigh muscle.

All three are expected to be on the flight tomorrow, but a depleted squad is the last thing Trapattoni needs as he fights to keep Ireland's qualifying hopes alive.